Learning in Public

A follow-up on Spotify and Ambient Media

Sharing ideas publicly is the best method I know of to kickstart a learning flywheel.

One of the great (or humbling, depending on how you look at it) things about writing online is that the second anything you put out there gets even a little bit of attention, you are immediately presented with other points of view that either refute your key points, convey the concepts you were trying to get across far more effectively than you ever could, or reframe the argument in an entirely novel way.

Figuring out how to learn in public on a consistent basis with the goal of being right, the understanding that you may be wrong, and an openness to change even your strongest held opinions is undoubtedly a personal growth superpower.


I say all of this because I had a great experience with the positive feedback loop of learning in public last week after the piece I wrote about Spotify and Ambient Media picked up more traction than anything else I’ve ever written.

Through this, I found out about a bunch of new-to-me ideas and frameworks, revisited some ideas that had previously shaped my thinking on the subject, and engaged in interesting discussions with others who hold different opinions but have a similar passion for the world of media and audio.

Below, I have shared a bunch of the links that came out of these conversations and would love to hear if there are any others you’ve come across that would be valuable to check out.


Future Ear Podcast

One quick note before the links…I had the chance to go on the Future Ear Podcast this week to dive deeper on Spotify and the rise of ambient media as well as to discuss how we at TechNexus are seeing audio-related technologies impact markets as varied as aviation, public safety, and marine. You can listen at the links below:


A few things I learned while learning in public

First, I enjoyed and learned a lot from this back and forth with Tren Griffin who understands the challenges Spotify faces as well as anyone and has written extensively on his blog, 25IQ, about concepts relevant to the future of media.

In addition to his specific points of view about companies like Spotify, SiriusXM, and Amazon Music, Tren introduced me to the concept of Wholesale Transfer Pricing, a John Malone-ism that helps frame the way companies should think about the relationships they have with their suppliers.

A few other helpful links…

  • Bollore: Streaming Music & Cash Flows — An interesting look at where value can be expected to accrue in the streaming market through the lens of a company called Bollore, who owns 25% of Vivendi (as well as 17 shipping ports in Africa and a renewable energy business!)

  • Spotify Needs to Make a Decision About Its Future — How can Spotify balance all of the different constituents and business models is currently juggling to build sustainable success?

  • Is Spotify the New MoviePass? — Great analysis from the the challenges of competing in a zero marginal cost world when your "best customers aren't your best customers".

  • Web Smith is always so great at concisely synthesizing big ideas:

  • Audio & AirPods: The first taste of transhumanism — Somehow this only has 1300 views on Slideshare. Nick’s presentation on AirPods and what their rise means for the future of media, health, and device interaction (among other things) is something I go back to a lot.


A few more things I’ve written…

Over the last year, I’ve written (and talked about) a bunch of other stuff building up to the deep dive I did on Spotify last week that I thought may also be interesting to share.

Hope you enjoy and I’d love to see you over on Twitter to talk more about any of these topics!

Discuss on Twitter